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Jun 22, 2010 02:59 PM

Trying to eat organic/seasonal in OC: is it hopeless?

Hi all,

I'm pretty religious about eating organic and seasonal at home, ever since before I got pregnant and since I've been nursing. Not only am I trying to be responsible with the earth for my daughter, I also don't want to fill my (and her) body with a lot of nasty chemicals.

So: my dilemma. When I eat out, I want to eat organic and seasonal food, but in South OC, it's damn hard to do. I am not a vegan, or vegetarian, so it basically leaves me with no restaurants that I can find that offer at least a reasonably wide array of choices. Nirvana Grille in MV and Laguna Beach offers a damn fine grassfed organic beef burger, but I haven't found another restaurant!

I found a place called The Cellar in San Clemente online...anyone tried it? Is it really organic mostly, or just a few things, like the greens in the salad? It's more important to me, frankly, that the meat and "The Dirty Dozen" fruit and veggies are organic than one or two items in a dish that aren't really that important.

Thanks so much!

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  1. Far from hopeless. Not as easy as SF or Portland or parts of LA, not as hard as Lubbock or Peoria. There's lots of good seasonal cooking with carefully sourced local ingredients--not necessarily all certified organic however. The organic AND seasonal list is going to be shorter.

    Here's a starting place

    Many many other fine restaurants in OC fall into this category. I would recommend Break of Dawn cafe for one.

    Avanti Cafe
    111 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

    Veggie Grill
    4213 Campus Dr, Irvine, CA 92612

    Break of Dawn
    24351 Avenida De La Carlota Ste N6, Laguna Hills, CA 92653

    5 Replies
    1. re: stuffed

      Veggie Grill is definately not organic.

      1. re: markscoular

        Didn't mean to imply that it is. My suggestion was that it offered good seasonal cooking with carefully sourced ingredients, and that my suggestions were a starting place for those sorts of establishments. As I said adding "organic" to the mix was going to result in a much shorter list. Sorry for the confusion.

        1. re: stuffed

          I can't speak for the Irvine location but there is nothing seasonal at the Veggie Grill nor me. Same menu since the day they opened and they don't claim that a single thing is ogranic, including the variety of super processed soy proteins on offer. Super processed GMO soy is among the worst things I can think of to eat if you are trying to eat local and low on the food chain.

          1. re: JudiAU

            Agree. Nothing seasonal about their menu, and barely any vegetables even for being a "Veggie Grill". Native Foods (which is very similar) has more plant based options, but the menu features pretty much the same 6 or so vegetables year-round.

            1. re: will47

              Guess I need to eat some seasonal, locally sourced crow on the Veggie Grill! Anyway, to the OP, take a look at the other Slow Food OC recommendations.

    2. You might try Old Vine Cafe in Costa Mesa.

      Old Vine Cafe
      2937 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

      1. Here are 3 recs from USA Today, Greens Cafe, ZPIzza and La Sirena. I have only been to La Sirena (the one in Laguna though, not the Irvine one). Native foods, and 118 Degrees are both supposed to be good, but they are veggie.

        I have not been there, but you might try Manhattan Steak & Seafood for the beef fix.

        Z Pizza
        3221 Carson St, Lakewood, CA 90712

        Manhattan Steak and Seafood
        202 S Main Street, Orange, CA 92868

        Native Foods
        2937 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

        118 degrees Raw Food Cuisine
        2981 Bristol Suite B5, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

        La Sirena Grill
        3931 Portola Pkwy, Irvine, CA 92602

        Greens Cafe
        15435 Jeffrey Rd, Irvine, CA 92618

        1. I just reviewed Kimera. The new chef is going the seasonal high quality ingredient route with a modern american classic food spin. I had a great meal there last weekend.

          Kimera Restaurant
          19530 Jamboree Rd., Irvine, CA 92612

          1. I agree!!!!! but there are a few options that I've found. My favorite is
            Tabu Grill
   its really not cheap, but amazing food, cool atmoshpere, and local seasonal cuisine. Id call to make a reservation, if not, they usually have seats at the bar which is not a realy bar, they call is the grill, where you can watch your food be prepared!

            Another option is Lola Gaspar. Its located in the Arts District in Santa Ana. Not south orange county, but a fun area thats got a lot of cool bars and galleries within walking distance. Definitely worth making a night of it. We went to Lola Gaspar saturday night for dinner and loved it. They havea seasonal menu, really cool atmosphere, and very cheap! They do small plates (which I love!). The most expensive thing we ordered were mahi tacos that were $9 for 3!

            oh! and Cafe Mimosa in San Clemente is I think. I just checked their website and it doesnt say anything about it, but I know they have a seasonal menu, and I believe I read that both of their restaurants (Antoine's too) use local ingerdients in the San Clemente Times when it opened.


            Tabu Grill
            2892 S Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

            Lola Gaspar Restaurant & Bar
            211 W 2nd St, Santa Ana, CA 92701